It is eighty degrees colder than it was six months ago. Maybe five. It's six below. And you know what? It's not that bad. It's bad, but it's not six-below-and-windy cold. I can bear this! Oh, I can bear this! Dying words of some poet; can't remember who. So much for an English degree.

     Good weekend. Watched "Making a Murderer." Fascinating, excellent documentary, and I understand why they left out some things that might have cast doubt on their thesis; they only had ten hours. I mean, something has to go. Recommended, though - as long as you read more about the case when you're done, and consider if you've been manipulated.

     Daughter was off the whole weekend; went to the Wisconsin Dells with friends. It's like Vegas, except it's in Wisconsin, and instead of gambling there are water slides. It's all about massive indoor water parks. Everyone has to take the family there once; I believe it is a law. Highway Patrol officers may come to your door if you don't take the kids at some point; don't know, because everyone goes.

Did I mention I got a call from my phone / internet provider, saying they would like to get my bill down? Gosh, if only I had the motivation to go back to previous Bleats and verify that this deathless info had been relayed to you, the consumer. I think I did. Anyway, I ended up going with their new Prism system, which is TV. This would allow me to cancel the satellite, and save a great deal of money.

     Also, I was getting Fiber! Hurrah for Fiber. It's fast. What's the word today? Used to be blazing fast speed, before "stunning" became the all-purpose adjective. Lightning-fast? Blindingly fast? No one's ever been blinded by a brisk download. Anyway, I wasn't increasing my speed, but Fiber means I could, in the future, boost my speed past the capability of copper.

     Copper! Ptui! We spit thy name, rude metal! The future is Fiber, because Fiber is Lux. FIAT LUX, BABY.

     So the installer shows up. Really nice guy.

     "You're here to give me FIBER!" I say.

     He gets a look of dismay.

     "Well, fiber to the node. Copper to the house."


     "Bonded double-wire. I think it'll be more than enough."

      I note that I was told I'd get fiber, and he's sincerely apologetic. I don't hold it against him. So! We go around the house, seeing where the boxes will go. He goes out to the car to increase my modem speed to 40 MPS; that'll handle the video and anything else I might need. (Mind you, I'd been told I was getting There's a DVR and two remote units that feed the signal to the other TVs. And where's your modem?


     "Is it by a TV?"

     No; it's in my studio. He gets that look again. I said you know, I thought you were going to string fiber from the pole and drill into the wall like, you know, the satellite guys. He says he doesn't drill, and frankly hates to drill; I get the sense that he sees it as almost cruel and unusual to do that to a house. We come up with an alternate idea: put the DVR in my studio, and pipe the signal to the three TVs around the house. But: the deal only counts two remote units.

     An additional one would be $49.99.

     Hahahahahhaha. No really, seriously? We both know that's two bucks' worth of Chinese circuitboard. There's no storage on that thing. He says he'll call the home office, and after being on hold for 20 minutes, the terrifyingly named Retention Supervisor says they'll wave the $10 a month charge for a year if I buy the box. By now everything is stinky. I tell them I'm walking away from the table, just to see what they'll do.

     The Retention Supervisor, given the opportunity to lock me in for a year, says no. And that's that. I bid the installer goodbye, and we have a rueful laugh over it all. (On the way out he says: "by the way, I really like your column." Whew: I had not been a dillweed at any time during this.) I'm so soured by the whole experience I decide to dump the landline for Ooma. A day later I get a big tag on my door from a new internet company, saying they're wiring my neighborhood for Fiber in a few months and would like to tie fiber right to my house.

     End result: having originally decided to go with CenturyLink for phone, TV, and internet, the experience led me to dynamite the entire relationship. Oh but it gets better. As the installer left he said he would take my internet down from 40 back to 20.

     "It's just like 'Flowers for Algernon,' I said.

     Later that day, I noticed slow speed. I check the speedtest pages. I'm at 7 MPS.

     Call the company. On hold for half an hour. The tech calls up my account, and says, and I quote: "Whoa."


     "I've never seen this. There's . . . some kind of hold on your account." He also says I'm still at 40 MPS, and that's why my internet is so slow: my modem can't handle the FIREHOUSE OF DATA. Which sounds like BS to me. All his twiddling and resetting doesn't accomplish anything, which means he'd have to send out a tech.

     "But there wasn't any physical changes," I said. "He changed the speed from his laptop in his vehicle. You're going to send out a tech to do what you're doing from your desk, right?"

     He says "rrrrrright." Maybe the guy could swap out the modem.

     A day later the speed was up to normal, and I called to cancel the service call. Said the dispatcher: he's seen a lot of this happen. When people cancel their Prism TV, there's a hold put on the account.

     "Usually," he says, "they can't get internet at all."

     He's seen a lot of this.

      Can't wait to be shut of these guys. Augh.




You can tell the last one was a hit:

Characters before the title. Then the title, which makes sense in a way different than you might think:

They're not following to pursue the Thin Man. This is the movie that was made after the Thin Man movie. Simple as that. How could they be attempting to find the Thin Man? He's dead. Well, it's not as if that'll cause any problems in years to come, right?

Here's another sign they knew exactly what people liked about the previous movie:

Time it takes until someone takes a drink: 3 minutes, 12 seconds. They're on a train, by the way, and because this is not a review but an account of the inadvertant documentary the movies provided, or the cues to the old world's bygone charms. This is what they had before the airport TV screens that showed arrivals and departures:

This scene threatens to turn into a perfectly composed piece of art, but never quite gets there.

As they drive through San Francisco, we see the old town in all its tatty glamour:

Not impossible to find; in the distance is the word THE CRYSTAL, which was an old theater. Down the street, the Embassy. And so:

The streetcar island is still there. Or rather a remade version is there in its stead.

Twenty-four minutes into the movie, the plot begins to present itself; Nick is pickled by then, wavering and blinking like someone who hasn't a true grasp on how hammered he is. Oh, he has a clue, but there are other things to think about, such as where the next drink is coming from. Then the young upstart actor appears:

He's terribly decent, so naturally I assume he's the killer in the end. Well, it's off to a nightclub, where a wide-grinned dancer hoofs and sings "Blow That Horn."


Penny Singleton. Blondie. And Jane Jetson.

It's the same as before: a murder, some sleuthing - a long, almost silent scene that casually establishes Nick's skills instead of just having us assume he's a Great Detective - and the obligatory finale where the mystery is unspooled and the guily party revealed. Again, the charm of the show is in its small bits.

Doncha love 'em? So the second is as good as the first, without the freshness. It repeats without rehashing, and despite its length never wears out its welcome. Less drinking, though. They do most of that on New Year's Eve, as you might expect.

How much drinking in the the third Thin Man, which would come three years later in 1939? That's next week.

Oh, one more thing. There's a 2 second snippet of a guy throwing newspapers off a truck.

Where might this be?

Just a guess, but it's the only intersection where Eddy meets the other streets as a diagonal, as the streetsign's position suggests.

How much less interesting the new and improved city can be.

That'll do; see you around.



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